Edinburgh University Wins Rainmaking Grant
Professor Stephen Salter of Edinburgh University has been awarded a government grant worth over £100,000 (U.S. $155,389) to come up with a device to create rain clouds.
His dream is to develop a 60-meter (197-foot) turbine which would suck water out of the sea and create water vapor which could be sprayed out into the atmosphere.
The professor calculates that the machine would produce a cubic meter of water for one-fifth of a US cent, one-thousandth the cost of water produced by electrical desalination of sea water.
The rainmaker is described as looking like a giant egg-beater and would be placed on catamarans off the coast of desert land.
It would work only in places that are not totally dry. Areas that have clouds but not enough to produce rain would be ideal, Professor Salter told The Times.
The professor believes his invention could help the Middle East peace process because such a machine would ease Israel's dependence on the West Bank for its water supply.
He is aware that his pipe dream will draw plenty of skepticism but remains defiant.
"They said you couldn't make ships out of steel. They said Marconi's radio waves couldn't be broadcast beyond the horizon. The Establishment is almost always wrong," he told The Times.
The machine uses an existing design known as a Darius turbine a vertical axis turbine that spins around driven by the wind. The turbine blades have water pipes inside them, with an inlet just below the surface of the sea. The centrifugal force of the spinning blades sucks the water out of the sea and propels it nearly 200 feet up inside the blades. It is then forced out of nozzles, creating a spray that turns to vapor. The salt from the sea water crystallises out and falls back to the sea.